Kuala Lumpur – Feb. 5, 2014 – Consumer confidence in Malaysia stood at 98 points, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Index released by Nielsen, a global information and measurement company. This is the first time where Malaysian consumer confidence level dipped below the 100 point since year 2010. An index below 100 indicates pessimism among Malaysians.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions amongst more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 60 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. Southeast Asian consumers lead the world with a strong sense of cautious optimism, with confidence in the region continuing to rank among the highest globally in Q4 2013.
In the latest round of the survey, Indonesia reported the highest Consumer Confidence Index score globally (124), followed by Philippines (114) and Thailand (109). Vietnam tied Malaysia with a one point increase (98) while Singapore slipped one point (97).
“Whilst the Malaysian consumer confidence has slipped below the 100 mark for the first time in three years, Malaysia remains one of the stronger country globally. This is a testament to the fact that whilst Europe and the US continue to languish in recession mode, countries like Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries are still experiencing a positive growth economy” said Richard Hall, Managing Director for Nielsen Malaysia.
THE ECONOMY AND INCREASING FOOD PRICES REMAIN MAJOR CONCERNS
Over a third of the Malaysian consumers surveyed cited the economy as a major concern (35%) followed by the increase in food prices over the next six months. Nearly a quarter of Malaysian consumers are worried about the looming increase of food prices (24%) compared to previous quarter (17%). This concern climbed to second place from fifth position in Q3 2013.
“There is no doubt that consumers feel that prices of goods are on the rise but in reality, inflation remains low based on the latest CPI index released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia, which revealed a 3.2% growth for Q4 2013.” said Hall. “There is increasing competition on supermarket prices of which only the consumers will benefit. Future price increases through the implementation of GST and rumours on further subsidy cuts will be fuelling the decrease in consumer confidence. Hence, Malaysian consumers are stating that they are saving more and clearing debts in anticipation of future price increases.”
AVID SAVERS AND EAGER TO CLEAR DEBTS
When it comes to allocating their spare cash, Malaysian consumers continue to be avid savers, with 63 percent channeling excess funds into savings in Q4 2013, after they have covered essential living expenses (up 6 percentage points). While plans to save for the future saw a strong up-lift this quarter, 45 percent of Malaysians are continuing to clear personal debts such as credit cards and loans, also a six percentage points increase compared to Q3 2013.
Malaysian consumers are diligent when it comes to keeping a check on their general household expenses. Eight in 10 Malaysian consumers changed their spending habit in the past year to save on household expenses. Consumers in Malaysia would continue to cut back to save on household expenses, even when economic conditions would improve. The top three areas where consumers have cut-back include new clothes (59%), out-of-home entertainment (54%) and switch to cheaper grocery brands (52%).
“It is good to see that Malaysian consumers are taking a more prudent approach to savings and paying off debts. This is also probably linked to credit becoming more difficult to obtain and banks becoming firmer in their approach to credit management.” said Hall.
Q4 FMCG SALES VALUE REGISTERS NEGATIVE GROWTH YEAR ON YEAR*
Purchasing power in the fourth quarter which covered the year end sales and festivities sales showed a slight dip in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) category. FMCG value sales figures tracked by Nielsen revealed a 2.2 percentage point growth, a slip of 0.8 percentage points compared to previous quarter.
“Although it is not surprising that the Malaysian consumer confidence levels have slipped due to increasing economic pressures, decreased subsidies and an overall perception that prices are rising or going to rise, the Malaysian economy remains strong and inflation is under control.” said Hall. “Whilst the country is not enjoying the boom years of the late 90s and early 2000s, Malaysia is still relatively strong in the region and will continue to enjoy one of the more stable economic environment.”
*Source: Nielsen Malaysia Retail Index comprises of 75 FMCG categories; excluding cigarettes, liquor, beer and shandy categories.
ABOUT THE NIELSEN GLOBAL SURVEY
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted between August 14 and September 6, 2013, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and North America. In Malaysia, the sample size is 501. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers, and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60-percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.